Grief is a bleak, colorless world. The only thing that feels alive in it is our heartbreak, stirred awake each time we forget that Ruby is gone and pick up the leash, add fresh meat to the shopping list, set aside a crumb on the plate, expect to find her waiting inside the front door, or wonder why we don’t hear her bark when Christie starts up across the street. It is hard to believe she is not just around the corner, somewhere out of sight, snoozing or stretching herself before coming to greet us.
Yet we are immeasurably grateful to have found deep comfort in the posts, emails, cards, flowers and visits from so many of you. Our Ruby had legions of admirers, in whom she seemed to bring out the best. She could look a stranger in the eye, wiggle her butt, do puppy paws and make that person feel like they were the most loved being on the planet. She transformed me from a lifelong cat lover into a doting, eyes-for-her-only daddy who now never even looks at a cat. Except to try to find one for her, something she always wanted.
And here’s the thing. As special as she was, the reason she appealed to hundreds of clients, friends, fellow dog persons, Facebook and blog followers and thousands of people she met only briefly on a trail, at the creek, outside a supermarket or elsewhere, is that she spoke a common language we all understand.
All dogs speak it. To say that Ruby was not unique in no way diminishes my appreciation of her. The beauty of sunrise will always come second for me to the light in her eyes.
Every dog has a different job to do with its own people. Some excel at affection, some at guarding, some at intuiting the needs of others, some at clowning or problem-solving or a host of other skills. Every one allows us to love it as best we are able, and considers that sufficient. Each in his or her own way shares the same precious gifts that Ruby gave us.
We know all of you have experienced the amazing and profound wonder that we have: a dog has loved you unconditionally. A dog has seen you for who you really are, not in the least distracted by your personality, your mood, or however imperfectly you may sometimes behave.
The thousand daily sweetnesses we held so dear – look at the way she cocks her ear; see how she’s lying with one paw underneath her; look how cute she stands when she’s eating; ohhhh, she’s rolling on her ba-ack; her soft head on our laps, her deep contentment in the tent; the feel of her downy cheeks; the soothing, all-is-right-with-the-world sigh as she stretched out peacefully for a delicious nap – these and hundreds more we know you understand too. Even that irresistibly perfect spot to kiss her on her third eye…
Friends have said so many kind, insightful things to ease our journey. They “got” Ruby because she got them, and because their own dog or dogs get them too. As one friend said the other day, the bond we share with our dogs is every bit a beautiful love affair. We never forget, we never completely get over it, and always, we remember those precious moments.